Biking Across Canada Day 5—Merritt to Kamloops: Ear-Popping Descents

I could easily get a speeding ticket here.

Spent the night in the picnic shelter at Merritt's Central Park. It was a great place for stealth camping—covered roof, and walls to protect from the wind that kept me out of sight. I was able to roll out my sleeping bag and sleep undisturbed…by people.

Notice how green the park grass is compared to the hills beyond. There's a reason for that.

Turns out I should have been suspicious of that green green grass in the middle of the desert. Around 1 am they turned on the irrigation system. I stayed dry, but it made quite the racket on the metal roof I was sleeping under. 🤷‍♂️

Once I got the road I was treated to some beautiful scenery, which was good because the climbing was challenging for this person who lives at sea level. It gave me many good excuses to stop and catch my breath. I also invented a lot of mechanical issues that required immediate attention while making my way to the summit.

I'm told the climbing gets easier after this.

Late in the morning I turned off the main highway and headed for Lac au Jaune Provincial Park, where my friend Jon met met for an escort into Kamloops. He drove in from town with his bike in the back of the van, with plans to retrieve it later. That meant I was able to ditch most of my luggage and enjoy an unencumbered ride. And what a ride it was!

Next time I’ll bring a canoe

We had about 800 m of elevation to shed on the way into town, which led to lots of fast riding on a twisty two-lane road. We'd scream down the hills, stop to equalize the pressure in our ears, and scream down the hills some more.

This part of the ride was also a study in aerodynamics. I had one pannier and a handlebar bag, while Jon had none. He was able to coast past me on the downhills while I was pedalling hard. It shows how much of an effect my luggage has on my exertion levels. More justification for packing light.

Kammy, you’re great. We won’t mention Husky the Muskie here.
Taking a pano of me taking a pano

Jon took me on a detour to see Kammy the trout, a carving of the Kamloops rainbow trout made for the 1993 World Fly Fishing Championship. Then we took the new multiuse pathway that opened this year. It was a beautiful trail, but decidely not an All-Ages-and-Abilities trail. The grade was way too steep for most cyclists. We were heading downhill, and had to brake the entire time to keep our speed to a reasonable level for a path shared with pedestrians. We could have easily hit 50 kph without pedalling (right before we would have crashed into one of the many switchbacks), and had to stop partway to let our rims cool down as we were risking tire blowouts. I wouldn't want to ride that trail uphill—it makes the Macdonald bridge access in Halifax seem trivial by comparison.

This is great! No cars, and great views.
Uh, this is really steep. I can’t let go of the brake.
You’ve gotta be kidding me!

It's the kind of bike infrastructure that makes it easier for people already cycling to keep cycling, but won't convince anyone new to try it. I wouldn't let my kids ride it—too dangerous.

After a much-needed shower at Jon & Lindsay's house, Jon and I drove in his convertible sportscar back to Lac au Jaune to retreive the van we left behind. If you're going to own a convertible, Kamloops is the place to do it—the desert-like conditions give you a lot of sunny driving days, and there are plenty of curvy mountain roads to enjoy. It was strange taking those same roads I'd biked in a car. It was nice being a passenger and having the chance to gaze at the scenery—when you're riding a bike you spend a lot of time staring at the road a few metres ahead of your front wheel—but when I was driving the van I much preferred the bicycle experience. I guess that's why I'm doing this trip.

Tomorrow (Saturday) will be a rest day in Kamloops visiting with Jon and Lindsay and their kids. I'm looking forward to it. Those two are dear friends and I don't see them enough.

Today's Distance: 92 km

Cumulative Distance: 548 km

John Kyle @JohnKyle